United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York,
Chief Judge Edward R. Korman Presiding (CV-96-4849)

 
 
Bank Claims
2005 Publication

Case Summaries

Below you will find case summaries of a number of awards paid out by the CRT.

  • In re Accounts of Otto and Maria Fuchs

Account Owner Otto Fuchs, the Claimant’s father, was a Jewish patent attorney. Maria Fuchs, his sister and the Claimant’s aunt, was a concert singer. Otto Fuchs, who had lived at 4 Cernovicka Street in Brunn-Komarov , Czechoslovakia , was arrested by the Nazis and deported to a concentration camp. Mr. Fuchs survived the War and died in Brunn in 1957. Claimant’s aunt, Maria Fuchs, was unmarried and had no children. Maria Fuchs fled from Berlin to Brunn, where she was captured by the Nazis, deported to a concentration camp in Poland , and perished in 1942, according to Swiss bank records ( see below).

The bank records show that Otto Fuchs held an account at a Swiss bank (“Bank I”) that was closed, unknown to whom, in 1941. Maria Fuchs held seven accounts at a second Swiss bank (“Bank II”); the accounts were held at several different branches of the bank including the Zurich , Basel and Lausanne branches. According to bank documents located by the Volcker investigators, all seven of the accounts were frozen under the 1945 Swiss Freeze of German assets, several years after owner Maria Fuchs had been deported to Poland and killed in a concentration camp. The documents located for the first of the seven Swiss accounts owned by Maria Fuchs show that the account was a safe that was “forced open on 21 March 1946 , and was found to contain 1,000.00 Swiss Francs in an envelope marked ‘for Dr. Ing. Otto Fuchs, Brunn 17, Cernowitzerstr. 4,’ as well as two separate sealed bags containing gold coins valued at 20,000 Swiss Francs and 5,000.00 Swiss Francs.” / The last known date of existence of the account is October 18, 1952 ; the Volcker auditors presumed the account was closed. The documents located for another of the seven accounts owned by Maria Fuchs indicate that the account was a custody account which, as of June 20, 1946 , had a balance of 39,125 Swiss Francs. A bank document shows that on May 13, 1946 , the account was frozen under the 1945 Swiss Freeze of German assets. The account was released from the freeze on January 12, 1951 . “The account was reported by the Zurich branch …, and on 13 January 1951 , the Bank inserted a comment on the record stating that the Account Owner died in 1942 and that either the Bank could not locate the Account Owner’s heirs or that the Bank was restricted from contacting the Account Owner’s heirs. It is not clear whether the account was closed by the Bank at some stage or remained open and dormant.” / The other five Swiss bank accounts owned by Maria Fuchs likewise were frozen on various dates in 1945 and 1946; as of February 16, 1945 , four of these accounts had balances of, respectively, 486,941 Swiss Francs, 15,973 Swiss Francs, 11,281 Swiss Francs, and 10,193 Swiss Francs. The value of the other account was unknown. The total amount awarded for all eight accounts (including the Otto Fuchs account), adjusted for interest and fees, was $4,808,943.24. /

  • In re Account of Edith Oppenheim

Account Owner Edith Oppenheim, claimant’s grandmother, was born on March 5, 1894 in Hohensalza (Inowroclaw), Poland , was Jewish, married and had two children. Mrs. Oppenheim came from a family of successful bankers and was herself a financial advisor and stockbroker for the bank Brüder Ginsberg in Berlin . Her husband, who also came from a successful banking family, died in Berlin in 1928. From 1930 until approximately 1942, Mrs. Oppenheim lived in Berlin . She went into hiding for some time, but was captured by the Nazis on August 25, 1943 . On July 12, 1944 , she was deported to Auschwitz , where she perished. Among the documents Mrs. Oppenheim’s granddaughter provided to the CRT was a copy of a transport list showing her grandmother’s deportation.

The Swiss bank’s records indicate that Mrs. Oppenheim owned two custody accounts. The Bank records do not indicate when the accounts were closed, to whom they were paid, or the value of the accounts. Given that Mrs. Oppenheim died in Auschwitz in 1944 and the absence of Bank records indicating the disposition of the closed accounts, the CRT concluded, based upon the presumptions set forth in the CRT Rules, that the account proceeds were not paid to Mrs. Oppenheim or to her heirs. Since the actual account values are unknown, the CRT calculated the award amount using the average value of SFr. 13,000 for a custody account. The amount of the award was $238,167.94. /

  • In re Accounts of Bertha Kaufmann, Hedwig Landesmann, and Hermine Hirsch

The Claimant is the Account Owners’ son, nephew and grandson, respectively. Bertha Kaufmann and Hedwig Landesmann were sisters and the daughters of Hermine Hirsch. All three Account Owners were Jewish and lived in Vienna . Claimant’s parents sent him from Vienna to England on a Kindertransport in December 1938; his sister followed in January 1939. The Claimant’s father was imprisoned in Dachau and fled to England in May 1939. The Claimant’s mother, aunt and uncle, and grandmother fled to Cambridge , England on approximately August 15, 1939 . In 1940, the Claimant’s mother and her immediate family immigrated to the United States , leaving her sister and mother in Cambridge , England . Claimant’s aunt died in England in 1945.

The bank records show that the Account Owners held four accounts at the Swiss bank in question. Among these records is a “list of custody accounts of clients [of the bank] domiciled in Austria that were closed in 1938, and a publication regarding Austrian laws that restricted foreign currency transactions.” / An account opening card for one account contains a notation that the account was closed on August 22, 1938, and the list of custody accounts closed in 1938 “indicates that the assets totaling 4,500.00 Swiss Francs in that account were transferred … to an undisclosed bank … pursuant to the Austrian legislation restricting foreign currency transactions.” / Another account contains similar bank records. In addition to the bank records located during the Volcker investigation, the Austrian State Archives contain census forms describing the assets of the three Account Owners, including statements showing that two of the three women had assets held at the Swiss bank. Three of the accounts were closed on August 22, 1938 (the same date shown in the bank records), January 21, 1939 , and November 23, 1939 , respectively. The fourth account was closed on November 23, 1939 . There was no evidence in the bank records that any of the Account Owners received the proceeds from their bank accounts. Two of the accounts had known balances; the other two had unknown balances and thus were calculated using average values. The amount of the award was approximately $206,709.73. /

 

  • In re Account of David Israel Frischer

The Claimant is the Account Owner’s only daughter. The Account Owner and his wife, Therese Frischer, who were both Jewish, lived in Vienna where he owned a company called David Frischer Papiergrosshandlung. According to the claimant, her father went to Zurich in 1936 to deposit assets in a Swiss Bank. Mr. Frischer died in January 1940. Claimant’s mother was deported to Theresienstadt and later to Auschwitz , where she perished in April 1945.

Prior to filing with the CRT, claimant sought the assistance of the New York State Banking Department’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office (“HCPO”). / After the CRT-II claims process was established, the HCPO referred the claim to the CRT and continued to work with the CRT as well as the claimant in connection with this and other claims. There were no bank records for Mr. Frischer’s account(s) located during the Volcker investigation. However, his census records were located in the Austrian State Archives. The census file included a letter from Mr. Frischer dated July 18, 1938 supplementing the original census filing. The letter (which was summarized but not quoted in the CRT award) stated as follows:

Furthermore, I supplement Point IVE my declaration by the listing of my deposit at the [Swiss Bank] in the amount of Sfr. 2,945.50 at the exchange rate of RM 1,682.75 and request to excuse the oversight due to my being an old and forgetful man who did not have any intention to withhold this asset, which is already evident from the fact that I timely registered this deposit with the main office of the [German] Reichsbank and offered it for purchase.

The total amount awarded was approximately $23,564.00. /

 

  • In re Account of Leo Davidsohn

The Account Owner, who was Jewish and a widower, lived in Berlin and had no children of his own. The Claimant, Leo Davidsohn’s grand-nephew, stated in his claim form that his mother had had a close relationship with the Account Owner, who generously supported the Claimant’s family in the 1930s. Leo Davidsohn was deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt on July 14, 1942 and was murdered there on August 12, 1942 .

The records located during the Volcker investigation show that Mr. Davidsohn owned an account of unknown type at a Swiss bank, which was still open as of January 31, 1946 , more than three years after the owner’s death in Auschwitz . As of that date, the account had a balance of 20,000 Swiss Francs. The Claimant received assistance from a Claims Resolution Tribunal staff attorney in identifying the correct address of his great uncle’s residence. The Claimant had identified Leo Davidsohn’s address as Kurfürstendamm 185, Berlin , Germany whereas the bank record indicated that the Account Owner lived at Wielandstrasse 23 in Berlin . The CRT staff attorney conducted research and discovered that Kurfürstendamm intersects Wielandstrasse at Wielandstrasse 23 and Kurfürstendamm 185, thus proving that the Claimant had in fact provided the correct address for his great-uncle. The total amount awarded was approximately $160,240.00. /

 

  • In re Account of Leon Kroll

The Account Owner, Leon Kroll, was Jewish, married, and had one daughter. The family lived in Lodz , Poland , where Mr. Kroll worked in the family textile business. In the early 1940s, Mr. Kroll, with his wife and daughter, were deported to a German concentration camp. Later, Mr. Kroll was sent back to the Lodz ghetto, and on an unknown date, he was deported from the ghetto and did not return. The only survivors of Mr. Kroll’s family were his two brothers – the claimants to the account – and two other siblings who died of natural causes. The claimants themselves had been deported to several different ghettos and concentration camps, including the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz , Buchenwald and Dachau .

The Swiss bank’s records indicate that Mr. Kroll held an account of unknown type. As of June 30, 1937 , the balance of the account was SFr. 179.00. The Bank’s records indicate that the account was transferred to a suspense account / and still remains open and dormant. Because the amount in the account was less than SFr. 3,950.00, the average value of an account of “unknown type” as determined under the CRT Rules, the award was calculated using the SFr. 3,950.00 average value, and then (as with all awards) adjusted for interest and fees in accordance with the CRT Rules. Thus, the amount awarded was $36,183.21. /

 

  • In re Account of Lina Froehlich

Claimant identified the Account Owner as his paternal grandmother, and stated that his grandparents lived in Mainz , Germany , where his grandfather worked as a merchant and owned a store. His grandfather was persecuted once the Nazis came to power and died in 1942. His grandmother, Lina Froehlich, was deported in 1942 to a concentration camp near Lublin , where she perished.

The Swiss bank records located during the Volcker investigation in connection with this account include a May 14, 1948 letter to the Bank from the Account Owner’s son (Claimant’s father), Hermann Froehlich, requesting information about accounts in the names of his mother, father and sister. Hermann Froehlich’s letter explained that his mother had been deported to a concentration camp, where she had disappeared and presumably had been killed. Mr. Froehlich enclosed a copy of his father’s death certificate and stated that he was about to obtain an official copy of his mother’s death certificate. The Bank responded that it only provided information to heirs after they had officially proven themselves to be the account owner’s legitimate heir. Furthermore, the CRT determined that the Bank misinformed Mr. Froehlich, advising him that the persons he had named in his letter had no connection to the Bank and possessed no assets at the Bank. The bank records indicate, however, that Lina Froehlich had had an account of unknown type that was closed on December 31, 1933 , and the ICEP auditors concluded that the account had been paid to Nazi authorities. The amount of the award was $31,812.09. /

 

  • In re Account of Adolf Dénes and Elisabeth Dénes-Deutsch

The Account Owners lived in Oradea , Romania , where Adolf Dénes was a banker and manager of the English-Hungarian Bank. In June 1944, Adolf Dénes, his wife Elisabeth, and their daughter Eva were deported to Auschwitz and killed. Claimant’s late husband Josef Deutsch, brother of Elisabeth Dénes, sought recovery of the account after the Holocaust and, according to the claimant, provided evidence to Swiss banks concerning the owners’ assets. Claimant informed the CRT that the Swiss banks denied her husband access to the account(s).

Records of the Dénes account were located during the Volcker investigation and include printouts from the Bank’s database, account cards, a registration form listing dormant accounts, extracts from a suspense account ledger and documentation “prepared in connection with the Swiss Federal Decree of 1962 concerning assets of missing foreigners or stateless persons persecuted on the basis of race, religion or politics.” / The bank records show that the Account Owners were Adolf and Elisabeth Dénes of Oradea , Romania , who used the fictive name “ W. Aden ” and the password “Silos.” The account was transferred to a suspense account in 1965 and was closed to fees in 1966; according to the bank records, the last contact with the owners was before the end of World War II. The bank records also contain further information regarding Josef Deutsch’s attempt to retrieve his relatives’ assets, and indicate that Mr. Deutsch had submitted a claim to the assets but that the Swiss Justice Department had instructed him to withhold any evidence or documentation of the accounts until he was expressly asked to hand in any such paperwork. The bank records indicate that Mr. Deutsch never was instructed to hand in his documentation, and that the account instead was closed to bank fees. The amount of the award was $17,589.04. /

 

  • In re Account of Dr. Julius Homburger

The Claimant, who initially filed her claim with the HCPO, is the daughter of Account Owner Dr. Julius Homburger. Dr. Homburger was born in Karlsuhe , Germany on October 26, 1894 , and was married in Leipzig , Germany on June 22, 1926 . Dr. Homburger, who was Jewish, was a physician in Frankfurt , and his wife was a nurse. The family fled Germany through Switzerland in 1935 and immigrated to Palestine , where Dr. Homburger died in Haifa on June 28, 1950 .

According to the Claimant, after World War II, she attempted to locate accounts belonging to her parents, but was unable to find such accounts. She contacted the Swiss Bankers Association about the accounts in 1989 and again in 1996, and also inquired with the Swiss Consulate in Montreal in 1989. In addition, in 1987, Claimant’s mother tried to contact the Swiss bank at which records ultimately were located several years later during the Volcker investigation. However, in 1987, the Bank responded that records were kept for only ten years and then shredded, and that an investigation therefore would be fruitless. The Bank further explained that in order to search all of its branches, it required death certificates, letters testamentary or letters of administration, and a check for 2,000.00 Swiss Francs. The Claimant advised the HCPO and the CRT that she had provided the Bank with a notarized power of attorney from her mother, as well as evidence that her father had died some 40 years previously, but the Bank had responded with letters restating its ten-year document retention policy and emphasizing that the Claimant had not proven her right to inquire about her parents’ accounts.

Records located during the Volcker investigation indicate that Dr. Homburger had in fact owned an account at the Bank of unknown type, and that the account had been opened on September 19, 1935 and closed on March 19, 1936 , after the family already had fled Germany through Switzerland and to Palestine . The CRT concluded that the account proceeds had not been paid to Dr. Homburger or his heirs given that the Bank had withheld information about the Account Owner in response to his wife’s inquiries, and given the absence of evidence in the bank records that the Account Owner or his heirs closed the account and received the proceeds. The amount of the award was $34,347.83. /

 

  • In re Account of Richard Emrich

The Claimant is the Account Owner’s granddaughter. The Account Owner was Jewish and was born and lived in Pforzheim , Germany in 1878. He owned a jewelry manufacturing company. The Claimant stated that the Account Owner left Germany to start a branch of the business in the United Kingdom . By 1939, the Nazis had seized the Account Owner’s company and most of the family had fled Germany . The Account Owner’s brother and his family were killed in Auschwitz . The Account Owner remained in the United Kingdom until his death in 1947. The Claimant stated that her grandfather had had an account at a Swiss bank and that her mother had contacted the bank several times, but was unsuccessful in gaining any information.

The bank records located during the Volcker investigation reveal that Mr. Emrich had held an account of an unknown type with a balance of 208.50 Swiss Francs on December 2, 1942 . The bank records also contain excerpts of a transcript that reveal that Richard Emrich’s account was one of the accounts reported to the Nazi government by August Dörflinger, an employee of a Swiss bank. / The CRT concluded that the bank records indicated that the account was paid to the Nazis. Thus, using the average value for an account of an unknown type, 3,950.00 Swiss Francs, the amount of the award was $36,183.21. /

 

  • In re Accounts of Paul Kolisch, Estella Kolisch, and Gertrude Eveline Shapiro

The claimant is the husband of one Account Owner and the son-in-law of the other two Owners. Account Owner Paul Kolisch, who was Jewish, lived in Vienna where he published several newspapers, including Der Montag mit dem Sport-Montag and Der Illustrierte Wochenpost. After his newspaper publishing business was Aryanized and his home confiscated, Mr. Kolisch was sent to Dachau , where he was tortured, and then to Buchenwald , where he was killed in December 1939.

The bank records located during the Volcker investigation indicate that Mr. Kolisch had owned accounts at at least two Swiss banks. The records for Bank I include a customer card and an internal memo dated December 13, 1949 indicating that the account owner, Mr. Kolish, had used an address in Arosa , Switzerland . The bank memo also states that the Account Owner had died in Buchenwald . According to the bank records, Mr. Kolisch had opened a demand deposit account on January 31, 1939 , and, on April 14, 1939 , had opened a safe deposit box at the bank’s branch in Arosa. The accounts were closed on May 6, 1939 . The amount in the accounts on the date of their closure is unknown. As to Bank II, the bank records include an account opening card as well as a letter from the bank dated March 17, 1938, “describing how it would soon complete a list of over 1000 custody accounts belonging to Austrian citizens, pursuant to the Foreign Assets Law for Austria as of 23 March 1938.” / In addition, the claimant provided the CRT with May 1938 correspondence between Stella Kolisch and Bank II regarding transfer of accounts from the bank to the Mercurbank in Vienna for the use of the newspaper publishing company’s provisional administrators. The accounts were in fact paid to the Nazis; they were transferred to the Mercurbank on June 16, 1938 . The amount in the custody account on the date of transfer was 56,200 Swiss Francs, while the demand deposit account held 1,798 Swiss Francs. The total amount of the award, using actual values for the two accounts at Bank II and presumptive values for the two accounts at Bank I, was $497,659.46. /

 

  • In re Accounts of Dr. Robert Blum

The Claimant is the grandchild of the Account Owner. The Account Owner, Dr. Blum, who was a Jewish attorney in Germany , was forced to shut down his law practice in Frankenthal and was interned in Dachau several times, the last time for three weeks in November 1938. In 1939, the Account Owner fled Germany to Sao Paolo , Brazil , where he died in 1941.

Swiss bank records located during the Volcker investigation include a power of attorney form, which Robert Blum signed while he was interned in Dachau, which gave Dr. Blum’s wife the power to make bank declarations and dispose of their assets. ICEP investigators determined that Dr. Blum owned two bank accounts, each of which was paid to the Nazis. Using presumptive values, the total amount awarded was $122,756.76. /

 

  • In re Account of Walter Herzog

Account Owner Walter Herzog, the Claimant’s father-in-law, was a German Jew who owned a silk tie company in Krefeld , Wilms & Herzog. Mr. Herzog was deported to the Riga ghetto in Latvia on December 10, 1941 and was held there until 1943. He was then deported to Buchenwald , where he perished in 1945. After the War, Mr. Herzog’s family members inquired after his Swiss bank accounts, and were informed in a March 25, 1997 letter from the Swiss Banking Ombudsman that the inquiry “‘was passed to every bank in Switzerland’ but that no dormant accounts were found.” /

Records were located during the Volcker investigation showing that Mr. Herzog had owned a custody account at a Swiss bank. The bank records refer explicitly to a Nazi confiscation provision, the November 19, 1936 Seventh Ordinance Regarding Implementation of the Foreign Exchange Control Law. The records also contain a letter dated November 25, 1936 from Deutsche Bank & Disconto-Gesellschaft in Konstanz informing the Swiss bank that all custody accounts containing foreign securities noted on the German Stock Exchange must be transferred to a Devisenbank in Germany . Deutsche Bank offered its services in this regard. In addition, correspondence between the Swiss bank’s primary branch and its Zurich branch describes the preparation of lists of account owners subject to the new law. In one letter, the Bank’s general director agreed to suggestions proposed by the Zurich branch to charge a transfer fee, in addition to a customary surcharge of .5% to 1% of the total value of the securities transferred to the German Devisenbank. The bank records indicate that Mr. Herzog’s account, then valued at 20,000 Swiss Francs, was paid by the Swiss bank to the Nazi-controlled Deutsche Bank in Berlin on January 28, 1937 . The amount of the award was $162,162.16. /

 

  • In re Accounts of Dr. Heinrich Fink

Dr. Heinrich Fink, uncle of the Claimant, was born in approximately 1914 in Upper Silesia , Germany . Dr. Fink’s family lived in Breslau , Germany , before World War II. Dr. Fink was murdered in Auschwitz . The claimant originally sought the assistance of the HCPO, and the claim subsequently was transferred to the CRT.

The Swiss bank records located during the Volcker investigation refer explicitly to the November 19, 1936 Seventh Ordinance Regarding Implementation of the Foreign Exchange Control Law and indicate that Dr. Fink’s account was one of 291 customer custody accounts, together totaling 6,266,760 Swiss Francs, transferred by Swiss banks to various banks throughout Germany during the period November, 1936 through January, 1937. The records further indicate that on December 14, 1936 , in accordance with the Nazi legislation, the Swiss bank holding Dr. Fink’s account transferred securities in the amount of 5,000 Swiss Francs from the Fink account to the Dresdner Bank in Berlin , and the account was then closed. Dr. Fink also owned a second account of unknown type; this account was closed unknown to whom on December 10, 1936 . The amount of the award was $77,826.09.